Ashfall national landmark designation celebration is Aug. 12

Released on 07/31/2006, at 12:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 12, 2006

WHERE: Ashfall Fossil Beds, near Royal

Lincoln, Neb., July 31st, 2006 —

dedication ceremony for Ashfall Fossil Beds' new National Natural Landmark designation is scheduled for Aug. 12 with a public recognition and presentation of a new bronze plaque.

The dedication ceremony will be open to the public and will start at 1:15 p.m. with a keynote presentation by Michael Voorhies, professor of geology and curator of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Nebraska State Museum. Also, senior officials from the Nebraska governor's office, including state parks and state museums, scholars from University of Nebraska, and federal executives from the National Park Service and Department of Interior will assist in the presentation of the bronze plaque in recognition of Ashfall Fossil Beds designation as the newest National Natural Landmark. Formal activities will conclude by 2:30 p.m. There will be a guided tour of Ashfall.

Ashfall was designated as a National Natural Landmark May 9 by Lynn Scarlett, acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior. The designation was the first of its kind in more than 18 years.

"This designation recognizes a one-of-a-kind paleontological treasure and initiates a reinvigorated National Natural Landmarks Program," Scarlett said.

Ashfall Fossil Beds is the only location on earth where large numbers of fossil mammals have been found as whole, three-dimensionally preserved skeletons. A thick bed of volcanic ash contains hundreds of complete skeletons of extinct rhinos, camels, three-toed horses and many other vertebrates lying in their death poses in an ancient waterhole. The animals were killed and buried by ash from an enormous volcanic eruption nearly 12 million years ago. The site was dedicated a Nebraska State Historical Park in 1991. A subdivision of the University of Nebraska State Museum at UNL, Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park is a cooperative project of the NU State Museum and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Since 1962, the National Natural Landmarks Program has supported the cooperative conservation of 579 important natural areas throughout the nation, involving private, state, municipal and federal landowners. The program includes ranches, agricultural areas, state parks, nature preserves and commercial properties. Participation in the program is completely voluntary, and National Natural Landmark designation does not entail control of land use or acquisition by the National Park Service.

To visit Ashfall online, go to Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

CONTACT: Rick Otto, superintendent, Ashfall Fossil Beds, (402) 893-2000